Neil Halstead is a good lesson in how to age gracefully in the music world. In his 20th year of making music, he's managed to keep the quality high and to switch things up with his sound enough to keep things interesting without alienating older fans. He started out in Slowdive, the shoegaze almost-legends of the early '90s, and then that band morphed into Mojave 3, which featured a folkier sound, with more attention to hooks than soundscapes. ("Return to Sender" from the band's 2000 album "Excuses for Travellers" remains one of David's favorite songs of the decade.) Now Halstead is on his own, and he's keeping things mellow, like he has for the past two decades. "Oh! Mighty Engine" is his second solo album and it fits nicely in the Nick Drake/Elliott Smith section of your record collection. Except without the eventual suicide, we hope. Halstead plays at Jammin' Java.
--David Malitz (Nov. 2008)